What is black pepper?
Black pepper is the fruit of the black pepper plant from the piperaceae family and is used as both a spice and a medicine.
Black pepper is a hot, pungent healing spice extensively used in ayurvedic formulations. It has a host of health benefits including cleansing and antioxidant properties; an additional benefit is that it acts as a bio-availability enhancer by helping in the transport of other beneficial molecules to their target organs, making black pepper very important in ayurvedic therapy.
The active ingredient called ‘piperine’ gives black pepper its characteristic pungent taste; it also contains a host of nutrients including magnesium, calcium, zinc, chromium, potassium, manganese, iron and vitamins A and C. It is excellent for pacifying the Kapha and Vata, but increases Pitta aspects.
Black peppers are used globally for flavouring and works best when added towards the end of cooking as its oils tend to evaporate during the process of cooking.
Here are some health benefits of black pepper:
Stimulates Appetite and Digestion – Black pepper stimulates the appetite through the sense of smell, making it an excellent stimulant for poor appetites. Mix half a teaspoon of black pepper powder with one tablespoon jaggery and take regularly till there is improvement. It also increases hydrochloric acid levels to help in digestion and controls conditions like bloating, colic, constipation and flatulence.
Improves Absorption – The magical piperine molecule from black pepper increases the bio-availability of important nutrients for absorption by the body; nutrients such as selenium, beta-carotene, curcumin and vitamins A and C are absorbed in greater quantities in the presence of piperine. It also slows down intestinal activity to enhance absorption of nutrients.
Encourages Weight Loss – Phytonutrients present on the out layers of the peppercorn help in breakdown of fat cells and prevent fat accumulation in the body. So even though it stimulates appetite, it also prevents weight gain by improving metabolism. It also encourages perspiration and urination to flush out toxins and excess water from the body.
Decongestant – Black pepper is great for loosening phlegm and stuffy noses. It is antimicrobial. Drink warm water with half a tablespoon of black pepper powder and honey 2-3 times daily. Or you could do steam inhalation with the powder added into the water.
Relieves Arthritic pain – Piperine improves circulation as well as reduces pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties and is great in treating joint pains of arthritis. It is also useful in treating gum inflammation and bleeding gums.
Fights Cancer – Its antioxidant qualities are useful in fighting colon and breast cancers. It also protects against lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Anti-depressant – Piperine increases the serotonin levels and secretion of endorphins. While the former is important in mood stimulation, the latter, reduces anxiety and melancholy and act as natural pain killers.
Skin care – It helps to cure vitiligo, which is the skin disease that causes the skin to lose its normal pigmentation and turn white; so this black pepper helps to cure this skin disease and also reduces the chances of skin cancer.
Health benefits – It is a good treatment for respiratory conditions due to its properties as an expectorant. It helps in the treatment of asthma. Black pepper also aids in weight loss and treats sinus and nasal congestion. It also reduces the risk of cancer and heart and liver ailments.